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Upstate SC Overview

In the Upstate of South Carolina, companies recognize the advantage of having access to a top-ranked business climate, world-class research environment and a superb quality of life. These advantages among others help support the diverse range of industries that represent the region including world-renowned companies like BMW, Michelin, St. Jude's Medical, Fuji, Sterilite and many others.

Companies are drawn here by our favorable tax rates, market accessibility and the quality & availability of our workforce. In fact in 2013, the Upstate SC Alliance was recognized in Site Selections magazines fifth annual Global Best to Invest Report.

Alongside our top-ranked business climate is the region's dedication to research and innovation. The Upstate is home to an abundant amount of private sector and university-based research including R&D facilities for Michelin, Fuji and General Electric and research centers to support the automotive, biosciences, plastics and photonics industries.

The Upstate also understands that in order to attract and retain a quality workforce, it's important to have an environment that offers something for everyone. Whether you are into watching fanatical college football, taking in a spectacular Broadway musical or just hanging out in the park listening to music, the Upstate of South Carolina promises to keep you and your employees thoroughly entertained.


Global Business Climate

Home approximately 500 companies from 34 countries, Upstate South Carolina provides an exceptional business climate for some of the world's most forward-thinking companies. Many of them are world leaders in the development and application of cutting-edge technologies in automotive, advanced materials, biosciences and energy sectors. As international investment has grown, so have the outreach opportunities for the international community here in the Upstate. This region offers international schools, sister cities programs and most importantly, the International Center for the Upstate.

With a talented workforce, a diverse range of industry, an accommodating infrastructure, and an attractive lifestyle, it's no wonder top companies such Michelin, BMW, General Electric, Fluor, Milliken, and Fuji all call Upstate South Carolina home.

Further proving the success of the Upstate business climate is the fact that since 2010, we have announced more than $9.9 billion in capital investment and more than 25,214 jobs.

  • 2013 Top Destination for foreign direct investment, 2013 Global Location Trends
  • 2013 Global Best to Invest, Site Selection 
  • #3 Top States for Doing Business, Area Development
  • #5 Pro-Business Regulatory Environment, Forbes
  • #2 Micro City of the Future, FDi Intelligence
  • Top 50 Cities for Global Trade, Global Trade Magazine
  • #5 for Globalization, 2012 New State Economy Index
  • #4 on the American Dream State Ranking Report, 2013

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Industry & Innovation

The Upstate holds a wide breadth of industrial focus and expertise, but our true strength lies where industry and education align. And while we are well known for our ability to design and produce some of teh world's most advanced products, we are specifically accelerating growth in the areas of Automotive, Aerospace, Advanced Materials, Biosciences and Energy. The impetus behind much of the growth in the Upstate is innovation spurred by university and private sector research. Local research and development by BMW, General Electric, Michelin, Timken, Capsugel, Milliken and St. Jude is redefining what's possible in several industries.

In university research, Clemson leads the way with groundbreaking work at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, the Advanced Materials Research Lab and the Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus. Small business entrepreneurialism also thrives at the Tyger River Campus of Spartanburg Community College, the Greenville Chamber's NEXT and NEXT Innovation Center, and the Greenwood Genetic Center.

  • #3 Automotive Manufacturing Strength
  • #6 Biotechnology Strength/Emerging Biotech Hubs
  • Named an Emerging Epicenter of High Tech Industry for Polymers
  • #6 America's Engineering Hubs: The city with the Greatest Capacity for Innovation
  • #1 Emerging Logistics/Distribution Growth Centers

View data and reports on Industry and Innovation


Population, Workforce & Education

Home to more than 1.37 million people, Upstate South Carolina is the ten counties in the northwestern corner of South Carolina. Over the past 20 years, this region has experienced an almost 30% growth rate, and investments in such growth industries as advanced materials, automotive, biosciences and energy are continuing to move the region forward at a record pace.

CNBC ranks the South Carolina workforce as the 5th best in the nation, based on quality and availability of workers and workforce training. This comes as no surprise as the 10-county Upstate encompasses a population of more than 1.37 million and has grown at a rate of 10% since 2000. South Carolina is also aright-to-work state and has one of the lowest unionization rates in the nation. 

Many of our workers have specialized skills, including a high concentration of architectural and engineering talent, mechatronic specialists, team assemblers and metal workers, and machinists and fabricators. Many headquarters are also located here, employing more than 11,000. Our highly skilled workforce is due in large part to the 23 colleges and universities in the region - including world-renowned Clemson University - as well as our long-established technical college system and nationally recognized state workforce training programs,readySC and Apprenticeship Carolina.

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One of the Upstate South Carolina's top assets is its ability to efficiently move people, goods and services. The region has excellent interstate highways, convenient rail services, and both commercial and private air connectivity. In addition, power and water capacity are plentiful, and the Upstate's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation.

By Land

  • Interstates 85 and 26 span the Upstate and provide quick access to major markets and the Port of Charleston
  • SC has the 4th largest state-maintained highway system
  • CSX and Norfolk Southern provide Class-I rail service to the area in addition to short-line services

By Air

By Sea

  • Port of Charleston is located 3 hours from the Upstate
  • Inland Port opened in 2013 provide direct rail connection to the Port

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Many are drawn to the Upstate by a cost of living that is around 10 percent lower than the national average. Once here, they are blown away to discover that just because most things cost less doesn't mean there's less of it. Housing is plentiful and relatively affordable, and top-quality healthcare easy to access.

The Upstate has as much to offer after work hours as during. With an active nightlife and a wide range of cultural activities from Broadway musicals to college football, there's always something to do. And the Upstate's many lakes and mountains offer an impressive choice of recreational activities, including hiking, boating, and golfing.

View data and reports on Lifestyle